As a Cat Town volunteer-turned-staffer, I have a special relationship with so many of our cats. We're often asked how we stop ourselves from adopting every cat we meet, and believe me, if I could I definitely would. But sometimes, you can't help but fall in love, even when your apartment doesn't allow pets.
This story was originally submitted as part of The PetCo Foundation's Holiday Wishes campaign.
When Elsa arrived at Cat Town, she wanted nothing to do with people and even less to do with other cats. She tucked herself into corners and did her best impression of a turtle, retracting her head any time a hand came near. My fellow volunteers and I worked to soften her, but had little success.
A few weeks into her stay, my boyfriend, Elliot and I stopped by. We both agreed that something about Elsa’s lack of interest made her all the more lovable. Elliot reached into the cubby where Elsa was hiding to let her sniff his hand, and for the first time, she did. We didn’t know it then, but our fates were sealed in that tiny moment.
At the time, we couldn’t have pets in our apartment, but we held out hope that our living situation might change. Our hearts broke when Elsa went foster-to-adopt a few months after arriving. We said it was for the best, but we were devastated she wouldn’t (and couldn’t) join us at home. She had already secured a special place in our hearts.
A month later a fellow volunteer told me, “Elsa isn’t getting adopted after all.” It was hard to contain my shameful excitement, but the truth was it felt like a beacon of hope. So she returned to Cat Town, grumpier than ever, and us even more in love.
At Cat Town, Elsa lived on her terms. She did what she wanted and was content to be in the background. Until, one day, she wanted more. Out of the blue, I watched as she appeared in the middle of the room, determined to kill the feather toy, playing confidently while people watched. Another month and another milestone occurred, then another, and another still; a brush of the paw, a treat from the hand, a feline friend—Elsa was learning how to be a cat as we cheered her on from the sidelines.
Then, suddenly, our situation changed and we learned we could finally adopt. On the very same day, Elsa accepted and enjoyed her first real pets from myself and a Cat Town staff member—cheeks, chin, ears—the works; it was serendipitous. We took her home just a couple days later.
Now, almost a year later, I watch Elsa lead Elliot across the room for hour long pets, and can’t imagine a time when anyone called her “unadoptable”. Without Cat Town, I’m not sure Elsa would have ever made it out of the shelter. But she did, and now we can be the endlessly adoring cat parents we hoped to be for so long, with the cat we loved at first sight.
She still hides when guests arrive. She still gives out grumpy looks when she’s feeling sassy. But she’s learned how to be her own cat. She’s learned how to love and be loved without fear. She’s perfect. We tell her every day. And now, we can call our house a home because of Elsa.
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